Proposed Rosemont Copper mine threatens Southern Arizona’s historic filming locations
(TUCSON, ARIZONA)– Save the Scenic Santa Ritas, a coalition of southern Arizona farmers, ranchers, residents and business owners, today released a six-minute film chronicling the threats from the proposed Rosemont Copper mine to some of America’s most cherished western filming locations. The 6-minute film can be viewed on YouTube by clicking here.
Southern Arizona filmmaker Frances Causey who produced the short film arguably calls Arizona “America’s western soundstage” as the film cites an envious legacy of western filmmaking in the state that boasts numerous theatrical and television credits. Southern Arizona, particularly the Rosemont and Empire Valleys- where the Rosemont Copper would be built- have hosted such films as Oklahoma!, Red River, and 310: to Yuma, among many others. Both Gunsmoke and Bonanza were also shot in southern Arizona.
But future filmmaking in a large part of the area is threatened by the Rosemont Copper Company’s proposal to blast a mile-wide, half-mile deep open pit copper mine in southern Arizona’s Santa Rita Mountains. The company also plans to bury more than four square miles of the Coronado National Forest under 700 feet of toxic mining waste laced with mercury, arsenic, lead and other poisons.
Tim Flood, a Tucson-based location manager who has worked on several big budget Hollywood film productions shot in southern Arizona, believes that mining and filming are fundamentally incompatible. Flood says that mining will “pose a real threat, even the ability to film in that area anymore.”
Tucson Film Commissioner Shelli Hall, who appears in the film, says film productions featuring Arizona’s beautiful and rugged landscape and unique locations have for many years effectively showcased Arizona to global audiences. Hall explains that the Tucson Film Office, which markets Arizona to film producers, is a key part of the $2.5 billion dollar tourism industry in southern Arizona. According to Hall, “films add to the lure that brings visitors here. People from around the world have a vision from the TV shows and films and they want to experience that.”
Hall says that filming in Arizona has brought hundreds of millions of dollars over the years to southern Arizona in the form of jobs for people behind the camera, jobs for talent and extras in front of the camera, location fees and hotel room nights.
The film features native Arizonan Lisa Sharp whose family owned the historic San Rafael Cattle Ranch where several western films were shot during the 1950’s and 1960’s. Sharp happily recalls working with film crews as a child and the excitement that the productions brought to her family’s ranch. Sharp says, “I mean everything was exciting as a kid, you know? And you’d see these guys get thrown off their horses and the fences would break and you’d wonder ‘oh my god’ and as soon as the word cut happened, then everybody would get up. The guys would go repair the fences again and start all over again. I mean it was great!”
Tim Flood, the location manager, summed it up by noting that usually mines are only used in apocalyptic scenes and, he said, “We don’t need another apocalypse in southern Arizona so we have plenty of open pit mines and there are multiple places where copper is readily available without having to devastate a pristine area like the Rosemont Valley and Empire Valley.”
Save the Scenic Santa Ritas is a non-profit, community organization of ranchers, residents and businesses working to protect the Santa Rita and Patagonia Mountains from environmental degradation caused by mining and mineral exploration activities.